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Benton County, Iowa ~ Biography and Family Information


Source:  Pen Sketches of Nebraskans
  By A. C. Edmunds of Lincoln, Neb.
R. & J. Wilbur, Stationers, Omaha. 1871.
Pages 54-55.
Neil Kennedy was a native of Scotland, near Edinburgh, where he received his education. Near the beginning of the American Revolution he enlisted in the British army and served, first private, then as sergeant, and afterwards promoted to recruiting officer, in which capacity he served to the end of his term. The father of Neil having died intestate, under the English law, the oldest male child became heir to the estate. This unjust law left young Kennedy without an inheritance, hence his enlistment in the service of his country to atone for the injustice it had done him. At the close of the Revolution he emigrated to America, and settled in Washington county, New York, where he lived about twenty-five years. He then removed to Chenango county, and settled in the town of Norwich—then a wilderness on the extreme western borders of civilization. Soon after his first settlement in America he was married to an estimable lady, a native of the county in which he had found a home. She owned some two townships of land in the interior of the state, but it, being so far from the settlements, she traded it for two hundred acres in the county in which she lived—a trade that, in our day, would be considered as "paying very dear for the whistle." But, in the space of fourscore years, the far west has advanced from central New York, and now stands gazing westward from the tallest peak of Cape Mendocino. Out beyond the deep waters of the blue Pacific there is a new west; and there the footsteps of American civilization are fast tending.

James Kennedy was the oldest son and second child of Neil Kennedy, in a family of ten children. He lived in his native State until 1854, when he removed to Benton county, Iowa, where he lived until his removal to Sarpy county, Nebraska, in 1865, where he still lives on a farm. As farming has been his life occupation, he feels ill at home in any other. At the time of his settlement in Iowa there were no railroads and no trading post nearer than Iowa City, about fifty miles distant. Sixteen years have made wonderful changes in the prairie state, but no greater than are to be wrought in the next decade.

Here there was no wilderness of heavy timber to clear away, as was the case in the east, wearing out at least three generations. All that was required to make a farm in three months was a plow and a team, sinewy arms and a manly will.

Andrew R. Kennedy, the subject of this sketch, was the fourth child in a family of seven children—four girls and three boys. During his minority he lived at home engaged in farming, which has been the business of his life, with the exception of one year spent in teaching and about eight months in reading law, which was terminated by his enlistment at the breaking out of the Rebellion. He served about one year in the 13th Iowa Infantry Volunteers. He was discharged on account of protracted illness. When he left the army he returned again to the farm, and has followed in that line to the present. In 1864 he removed to Nebraska and settled in Sarpy county, buying a small farm of 327 acres, which he cultivated with his own hands until the fall of 1871, when he traded it for a stock of goods in Pappilion, a station on the U. P. Railway. In February, 1865, he was married to Miss Katie Shepard, a native of Massachusetts, and an estimable companion, whose womanly qualities commend her to those who know her best. Kind-hearted, sympathetic and charitable; the friend of the poor and needy, and the sympathiser in distress, she endeavors to prove her Christian virtues by multiplying the joys and lessening the sorrows of life.

Mr. Kennedy is, politically, a life-long republican, and a firm believer in the purity of politics and the necessary honesty of worthy politicians. Those who have not these virtues should be cast out. In the fall of 1870 he was elected to represent Cass, Sarpy, Saunders, Seward and Butler counties in the session of 1871. The certificate of election was given to Mr. Pottinger on account of the failure of the canvassers to receive the votes of Saunders county in time. Mr. Kennedy contested the election of his opponent, and after some maneuvering on the part of Senators, was finally admitted to his seat and served faithfully as "float" Senator for the balance of the term.

Andrew R. Kennedy is a sincere, straight-forward and upright business man; a good legislator; a good citizen, and a credit to the counties he represents.

Transcriber's Note: See the 1856 Iowa State Census, Benton County, Iowa Twp, Irving Town.

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